8 Pieces Of Career Advice You Can Actually Use

Career advice. It always makes me think of afternoons spent in the library, of our career advisor scratching her head and looking down at my interests. English. She likes writing. She puts her hand up too much in class. Teacher? Each of my friends came back with a new job prospect. Doctor. Teacher. Lawyer. They were all so traditional. It felt like she was trying to give us something that would make our parents proud rather than something that actually worked for us. The career advice I got was basically, get your head down, go to more lessons and do things by the book.

But of course, I didn’t. And half those career advisor sessions ended up being wasted time. Career advice is often too ‘one size fits all’, it doesn’t always apply to every situation. It doesn’t apply to the woman who’s happy doing her job as long as it puts food on the table but isn’t bothered about a promotion. It doesn’t apply to the graduate who’s decided she’d rather work in gardening from now on, forgetting the path that had been carved out for her.

Career advice is almost always about progression, determination, learning. All those things are fine things, but the best career advice takes into consideration that even in your dream job there are hard days. Even after the promotion, there’s hard work. With that said, over the past few years, I have got some career advice that made a difference. I’m sharing it now, in the hope that it motivates you to keep going no matter what your journey might be. If you have any career advice of your own, drop a comment in the box below and share it with us.

1. NEVER WISH FOR IT, WORK FOR IT

There’s no such thing as wishing for it. I learned that at the beginning of my career. I used to use words that weren’t so powerful. Words like ‘hope’ and ‘maybe’. I used to say things like ‘hopefully it will…’ instead of saying ‘It definitely will’. It affected the way I thought and the way I talked. It was a ‘wishing’ mentality instead of a ‘working’ mentality. If it doesn’t work, make it work.

2. LIFE DOESN’T GO IN A STRAIGHT LINE

Too often, in school, college, University and beyond we think life will take us smoothly from one destination to the next. From graduation to a career and beyond. But it’s never like that. It’s actually ups and downs and roundabouts. But you’ve got to remember that life isn’t planned out for you. If something unexpected happens it’s still part of your path.

3. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS THE RIGHT CHOICE

This piece of advice originally came from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. But it’s stayed with me. I used to get so caught up wondering what the right choice would be. When I actually had lots of good choices. You are the only one who decides if it’s the right choice or not. You can make a good choice and then work hard to make it great. That’s the key.

4. STOP THINKING SUCCESS COMES WITH SACRIFICE

It’s a side effect of our generation, we believe that success comes with sacrifice. That you can’t actually achieve something without giving something else up. The price of magic, right? We all want to make magic. Forget that, you will be successful if you give yourself the time, patience, and love you require. You don’t have to burn the candle at both ends to be successful, you don’t have to give up a life you want, that’s just a small-minded version of success. You can create the success you want. This is something I’m working on. Switching off, recharging, getting back to real life every so often – that’s just as important as working 24/7.

5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

I once read that almost nothing you worry about today will define you tomorrow. That’s important, it’s something you definitely need to remember as time flies. Anything you are worried about, anything you lose sleep over now, and any mistakes you’ve made – they don’t define you in the long run.

6. DO WHAT YOU WANT 

If working 9-5 on your career and 5+ on your side hustle makes you happy, do that. If you’d rather quit the path you’ve been on and pursue something new, do that. There are no rules. No careful treading to avoid upsetting people. When I was younger, I didn’t even know what ‘marketing’ was, or that it would make me happy. If something stops making you happy, stop doing it. Look for new ways to create your own happiness.

7. FORGET WHAT PEOPLE SAY

There’s an old Indian proverb. The elephant keeps walking as the dogs keep barking. Simply put, the elephant doesn’t care about the opinions of the dogs. They’ll keep yapping, and the elephant will keep on going. It’ll barely glance an eye towards them as it passes by. You should feel the same about people’s opinions. Your journey, your choices, they are all personal to you. You can’t, even though you might want to, listen to everyone. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, and go for it, despite the ‘barking’.

8. LEVERAGE WHAT YOU KNOW

Learn, all the time. Learn as often as you can. Even if it’s unrelated to your career, and to what you want from life. You can leverage what you know in any career. In any walk of life. Digital skills, the tech industry, coding, cooking, languages, the more knowledge you have, the more of an advantage you have. Remember that. What you know is your secret weapon.

GOOD THINGS

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Featured photo: emilywweiss

Beth Macdonald

Managing Editor

I'm the Managing Editor of CGD. I'm a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy and have published a short story. I specialize in copywriting, digital marketing, and research.

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